|Publishers||Classic Game Creations|
Packrat Video Games, LLC
1-4 players simultaneous
Unlike the previous Vecmania, which comprised seven full games and two demos, the majority of Vectopia is composed of unfinished demos and only three full games.
In order to cycle through the games, once the menu screen appears after power-up, the player must press button one on the Vectrex controller, then to play a game they must press button four.
Spike's Water BalloonsEdit
Aside from this being for the original Vectrex analog controller (the modern day digital converted controllers won't work with it) and there not being a way to speed up Spike, this is the exact same Spike's Water Balloons from the previous All Good Things cartridge.
Being a clone of Kaboom!, a game that was ported to many gaming platforms during the early 1980s, this time around instead of using buckets to catch bombs dropped by the "Mad Bomber" at the top of the screen, the player uses Spike, the unofficial Vectrex mascot, to pop balloons with the top of his head that are dropped from his enemy Spud. Spike's head is a bit smaller than the original buckets, but this time around he can also kick a missed balloon back up towards Spud, somewhat reminiscent of the arcade game Kick Man. Missing a balloon counts against the player, and once three balloons hit the ground the game is over.
- Start game: button one
- Return to Vectopia: button two
- Play game: button one
- Move Spike: joystick or D-pad
- Kick balloons: button four
This is a clone of the arcade game Targ, where the player controls a ship that moves through a series of grids while shooting other ships (called Trakkers). Occasionally an HKT (Hunter Killer Trakker) will materialize and aggressively chase the player until either it or the player's ship is destroyed. After several levels the regular Trakkers will begin shooting at the player. The player's ship cannot reverse while traveling throughout the grid (except for when it hits the edge of it). An extra ship is awarded at 10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 points and there is a bonus granted to the player for every level they complete.
Colliding with or being shot by a Trakker will result in the player losing a reserve ship and the game ends when there are no remaining player ships.
- Play game: up on D-pad or joystick
- Return to Vectopia main screen: down on D-pad or joystick
- Move ship: joystick or D-pad
- Turbo (speed up ship): button two
- Fire: button one
- Pause: button four
This is a clone of the arcade game Gyruss, where the player controls a ship that can spin around the screen in a circle and fire at ships that rapidly emerge from the center area of the screen. After the first level is cleared they will start firing at the player's ship, and there are also two ships that appear later in the game that creates a force field in between them (which shooting one or both ships will disable the field), along with an indestructible asteroid that emerges from the wormhole.
There is also a trio of Sentry ships that will appear from time to time that are worth either bonus points and certain ships that appears with them will grant power-ups. The Sentry ships that look like level one from Bedlam are just worth big points, but the ships that look like a Spiker from Tempest will destroy everything onscreen, the small ship will grant the player double shots, and the ship that looks like a sideways eight (or the infinity sign) slows the action down for several seconds. All of these ships that grant power-ups will appear in the middle, flanked by a Sentry ship on each side.
Once the player loses all of their ships the game is over. Enemy ships can pass through the player's ship unharmed though (except for the ones that generate the force field). Also, bonus ships are awarded at 20,000 and 40,000, with a Super Bonus granted at 60,000 and 160,000, which will raise the player's number of reserve ships to nine. 1000 points are also awarded for destroying a formation of ships before they make it back into the wormhole.
- Start game: press up on the joystick or D-pad at Wormhole title screen
- Exit back to Vectopia: press down on the joystick or D-pad at Wormhole title screen
- Move ship: move joystick or D-pad
- Fire: button four
- Pause: button one
- Show score during game: hold button three
As the title says, this will test a player's controllers. A representation of two Vectrex controllers are onscreen; manipulating a control will result in a reaction from the onscreen controller, whether the player moves the joystick on their controller and the joystick on the screen will move, or when the player presses a button, then that corresponding button on the screen will depress as well, indicating the controller functions are working.
The player will have to press reset on their Vectrex in order to exit out of this demo or just turn their machine off.
Mad Planetoid Test WkEdit
This is a demo of what could have been a clone of the Mad Planets arcade game if completed.
Amidst a swirling star backdrop are two planetoids, the player's ship, and what appears to be planetoid moons (that are needed to be shot in the arcade game in order to destroy the full-sized planetoids) that flicker and rapidly appear and disappear on the screen. All the player can do is move their ship by the joystick or D-pad, turn it left and right by using buttons two and three, and firing with button four, and that's it, as there's no way to die or destroy anything and there's no sound.
The demo can be exited by pressing reset or just by shutting off the Vectrex.
Star Fire Early WorkEdit
This is what would become the second area (the surface run on Dark Planet) of Star Fire Spirits from the previously released Vecmania cartridge.
In this demo, the player can move their crosshairs with the joystick or D-pad, rotate the screen around (which would later be left out of the finished game) by pressing buttons three and four (although just moving the target site will also cause the screen to roll a bit too), and firing by pressing button one. However, this will not blow off the tops of the laser towers, which do not fire at the player, and the bunkers are missing, along with sound.
To exit out of this demo, the reset button must be pressed or the Vectrex just can be turned off.
Star Fire Early Work IIEdit
This is what would become the first area (in free space before skimming Dark Planet's surface) of Star Fire Spirits from the previously released Vecmania cartridge.
In this demo, the player can move their crosshairs with the joystick or D-pad and fire at the T. I. E. Fighter-like ships with button one. Several of the ships will tumble around the screen, unlike how they just came straight for the player in the finished game, as well as several of them staying in the background, never getting any closer. The fighters' shots this time around look like snowflakes and are easier to spot than the way they would end up looking on the finished product. The player has six shields to begin with, which, with every hit by enemy fire, they will go down by one, and the demo ends when the player is hit when no more shields are remaining. There is also a zero onscreen right by the shields, which is assumed that would be for the score, but it never increases.
The demo can only be exited by pressing reset or just by shutting the Vectrex off.
Star Fury Test WorkEdit
Possibly an early test for the later Space Frenzy game, here the player controls a small ship by pressing buttons one and two to turn it, button three for thrust, and button four to fire as several dots on the screen join together, then they disappear, being replaced by some kind of a plus sign that follows the player around from there.
And that's it for the entire demo; there's no sound, the player can only fly around and shoot, although there doesn't seem to be any way to destroy the plus sign or do anything else.
Pressing reset will exit back to the Vectopia menu or the Vectrex can be turned off to end the demo.
This is an unfinished racing demo for up to four players (no computer A. I. was implemented) with nine tracks. Players race around a track, and whoever comes in first place three times will win and their time will be displayed onscreen; however, sometimes a glitch will occur and some other player will "win", even though they weren't in first place. Each time a player completes a lap their score's tally (in the center screen) will go up by one (which each player starts off a race with one point each as it is).
Knocking into other cars will cause them to spin around for a few seconds and delay their advancement around the track. The starting gate also changes constantly, as it's usually at the bottom, but sometimes it's at the top of the screen as well. The game has no sound.
The game will keep on cycling through all nine tracks until the Vectrex is reset or turned off. An online tutorial can also be accessed from the Vectropolis 500 title screen by pressing button one, button two will start the game, and three will exit back to the Vectopia menu.
- Player one: move car left and right with the joystick or D-pad on the first controller, then gas is used by pressing button one
- Player three: move car left and right with buttons two and three on the same controller, and gas is used by pressing button four
- Player two: move car left and right with the joystick or D-pad on the second controller, then gas is used by pressing button one
- Player four: move car left and right with buttons two and three on the same controller, and gas is used by pressing button four
- This was the second 64K cartridge for the Vectrex, the first being Vecmania.
- Once the Wormhole game is selected, if the player waits for several seconds, a message from creator John Dondzila appears, proclaiming it to be "my most intense Vectrex game ever".
- Also, the indestructible asteroid that starts appearing after several levels looks just like one of the asteroids from Dondzila's Rockaroids games.
- There had been complaints with some of Dondzila's earlier works, like from the Video Game Critic for Spike Hoppin' in regards to the long pauses in between levels. With this compilation though, on Wormhole, pressing button two after the level number appears on the screen will cause the game to start the level right then and there, cutting out a few seconds of pause, and the same goes for Trakkers with pressing button three, speeding up the process.
- Also, both of those new games have a pause feature as well, which again is a welcome addition (Spike Hoppin', for instance, did not use a single button on the controller, yet that would have been easily added to the game). Previous compilation cartridges of All Good Things, Patriots and Vecmania only had one game each that had a pause feature (Vectris, Patriots and the Patriots Remix, respectively).
- In regards to Vectropolis 500, Dondzila had stated on the game's instructions that he didn't really like the blocky look of the project and lost interest in finishing the game.
- Spike's Water Balloons was originally released on All Good Things, working with either the original Vectrex control panel or modern day compatibles, along with being released as Spike's Water Balloons Analog as its own separate cartridge.
- The cartridge was produced from 2001-2013 until programmer Dondzila had to shut down his company of Classic Game Creations due to not having the time to do so any more. Packrat Video Games, LLC made the cartridge available again in January, 2015.
- Official page on Packrat Video Games site
- A few additional pictures of the unfinished demos from this release can be seen on the Catalog of non-gaming Vectrex demos page
- Unlocking a secret Spike head can be seen on the list of Vectrex game easter eggs page
- Click on the tabber below for a review.
Vectopia is kind of like the sophomore slump of a trilogy of movies, where the first movie’s great, the sequel didn’t live up to it, but the third movie was better than the second. Not that the cartridge is bad in any way, it’s just that there’s only two full new games here when it was released, having an unfinished demo that’s almost a full, complete game (that is very playable though), another full game that had been released before, but set for the original Vectrex analog controller, and the rest are demos that you can’t do much with.
Because Vectopia is squashed in between the previous cartridge of Vecmania, which had seven full games (although the bonus secret game is the same as the one on the previously released Patriots), three of which were totally new, three were - remixes - , and there are two playable unfinished demos, and then the spectacular Gravitrex came afterwards (need I say more there?).
So, lets see what we got from creator John Dondzila this time around!
WORMHOLE - clone of the very classic arcade game Gyruss, where your ship spins around the screen in a giant circle to destroy as many enemy ships as possible. It’s amazing how far Dondzila came with the slow moving early releases of Vector Vaders and More Invaders! (from the All Good Things cartridge) to how incredibly fast the enemy ships swarm in and out of the center of the screen (the “wormhole”). At first this seems like Dondzila’s easiest game to date, since the ships can pass through you without harm and they don’t shoot back, but that won’t last for long (isn’t that always the way?). Making up for not having any of the cool music and the bonus stages, you’re granted three power-ups (rather than the arcade’s one) upon shooting special ships: double shots, destroying everything onscreen, and slowing down the action for several seconds. Pretty intense stuff...
TRAKKERS - nice of Dondzila to clone an obscure game again (like Eliminator’s clone of Repulse from Vecmania), this one being Targ. In the arcade original you drove a car around a grid and shot at other cars; occasionally a pain known as the Spectar Smuggler would appear and make a beeline for your car. However, you can’t reverse and shoot at anything behind you, so this is not as easy as it may sound. You also can’t shoot away like mad, or else a car could suddenly turn onto your lane (without signaling first, grrrr) and destroy you before you can shoot again (as your shots travel kind of slow). Dondzila said this is more strategy than action, but it’s also a reflex game, since you need to use the gas button to speed your way out of messy situations as well. Not for Sunday drivers.
SPIKE’S WATER BALLOONS (ANALOG VERSION) - don’t really know why this one’s here; it’s the exact same version of the one on All Good Things, except supposedly made for the original Vectrex analog controller. I say - supposedly - because it doesn’t really work that well! It’s pretty difficult moving Spike only a hair’s width (that the game can call for) to pop as many balloons as enemy Spud throws down to the point where I couldn’t even get past the third level. And no, my original controller still works fine, but it’s - control - (not really) is too squirrelly for this game. Next...
The rest are just demos, the most complete one first:
VECTROPOLIS 500 - a rare racing game for the Vectrex, like the old overhead-viewed Sprint and Indy arcade games (4 and 800) and Indy 500 for the Atari 2600. Supposedly the first person around the track three times is the winner, but I found a bug in the game where if there’s two players, another player will win even if they didn’t complete three laps first (which starts happening on about the fourth track or so). This has up to FOUR players at once, although it would be pretty nuts to have that many people crammed around the two Vectrex controllers. I’ve tried it with two players and it’s a bit of fun, despite no sound. I think this should be finished up and released, there’s not many racing games for the Vectrex.
CONTROLLER TESTER - test to see if your controllers will work; pressing the buttons/moving the joystick corresponds on the screen if they’re functioning. Whee!
STAR FIRE SPIRITS, levels 1 and 2 - early works. Level 2 (actually it says it’s level 1 on the screen, for some reason) won’t let you destroy any tower tops, however you can rotate the screen all the way around! That wasn’t in the released version on Vecmania! Level 1 is actually more difficult than the released version, the T. I. E. Fighter-like ships are small and usually tumble around the screen, being harder to destroy than in the released version. I like this one better actually, it’s more challenging. Too bad all you get are six hits on your shield and the game is over, there’s no working tally for your score or a lead-in to the next level; bummer.
MAD PLANETOIDS-don’t know where on Earth Dondzila thought he could have done a Vectrex version of the (also obscure) frenzied Mad Planets arcade classic, which had a Tron-like joystick with the fire button AND a dial to rotate your ship around. However, he said it’s a - scratch pad - bit that possibly he was just seeing if it could be done, as all you can do is move and shoot, there’s two planetoids that can’t be destroyed and massive flickering smaller circles that could cause seizures (which I assume are the moons on the planets that you destroyed in the arcade original). Not much to see and do here...
STAR FURY-...and the same goes with this one, it’s just a demo of a tiny ship flying around and a cursor following it. Huh? (An early sketch for Space Frenzy?)
So there you have it, the cartridge is pretty much two frenzied shooters and a racing game, and that’s pretty much it. However, it’s worth it, the games are fun, and there’s some neat touches included as well, such as a much deserved pause button on both full games (gasp! Something sorely missing on a lot of Dondzila’s stuff!), vector versions of the indestructible asteroid and the twin ships with the beam from Gyruss, a secret Spike floating head, and three separate title screen music pieces. Controls work fairly well for the most part (aside from Water Balloons and the working the ship around in a circle on Wormhole with a digital controller), although the graphics fare better, and the sound and especially music are good. And, as any new game for the Vectrex deserves mention, with this one you got three!
Review written by Darryl